When he discovered the Toulouse Stadium, on the eve of the match against New Zealand (September 15), the assistant coach of the Namibia team, Barend Pieterse, could not believe it. “I would like to show you a photo of our stadium in Windhoek [capitale de la Namibie] to compare with this one. I was saying to Allister earlier [Coetzee, l’entraîneur principal] that it must be the most beautiful stadium I have ever seen”he then explained to journalists.
We do not yet know what Barend Pieterse will think when he enters the Vélodrome in Marseille, an otherwise legendary and impressive venue, crowded with wild supporters, to face the XV of France, Thursday September 21. But his amazement at the smallest stadium in the Rugby World Cup reveals the gulf that still separates the Welwitschias from the highest level of world football.
Among the thirty-three players selected by the Namibian management to compete in the competition, only a handful play in a high-level championship. We can cite the Bayonne hooker Torsten van Jaarsveld (Top 14), the Colomiers center Johan Deysel (Pro D2), or the former Australian international Richard Hardwick, resident of the Melbourne Rebels (Super Rugby, the club competition of Pacific countries). Some also wear the colors of formations of 1D and 2e South African divisions.
But the vast majority are semi-professionals or amateurs, sometimes playing at very modest levels, like Casper Viviers, pillar playing in 7e French division. “Some had to change jobs because they could not benefit from a month’s leave from their employer [pour participer au Mondial] »revealed Allister Coetzee before his troops entered the competition.
“Our World Cup is our last match”
Especially since players cannot become seasoned in a good level domestic championship. The only Namibian club that played with second division teams in the South African championship had to throw in the towel this year due to lack of resources. “Namibia, with its 2.5 million inhabitants and its very large territory, is the second least densely populated country in the world. Due to the distances, it is very complicated to set up a lasting championship”details Kevin Veyssière, author of Rugby planet. 50 geopolitical questions (Max Milo, 230 p., €21.90).
“In the North, getting to a training ground can be a five-hour drive. On the coast, four hours and in the South, it’s even further: seven hours! It’s always a sacrifice for the players”, summed up Allister Coetzee. And Torsten van Jaarsveld adds: “The guys come on Thursday. They train on Thursday and Friday, play a game on Saturday and then they do something else. »
You have 42.26% of this article left to read. The rest is reserved for subscribers.